Delayed Gratification

Recently I took my two young boys to the grocery store to pick up some essentials. Quick side note, a grocery store without shopping cart returns is not a kid-friendly grocery store. I should have learned my lesson by now but I keep taking them. Anyway, the kids enjoy the trip because they get a free cookie from the bakery. This time, our six year-old asked if he could have a cookie before we left the house. I gave both boys the choice, a cookie then at home or a cookie from the store bakery they could eat while shopping. The six year-old chose to grab a cookie at the house and it was gone before we even got in the car. Our two year-old chose to wait and grab one at the store. In that moment I was impressed with my two year-old, and surprised, for waiting for what would be a more impressive cookie in the store. Delayed gratification.

What does this look like in the hobby? Is it worth it to hit BIN (Buy It Now) to have that card shipped out immediately, or to wait for the card to show up at the right price down the road, or even become available for trade? Do I stress out over trying to win a contested auction to save a few dollars, or do I avoid the stress and grab it while it’s available? Should I wait it out after making a best offer while others have the chance to do the same? Same with particular copies of cards, or how we allocate our funds towards different cards. We’re all often faced with this dilemma as collectors. It’s a necessary part of building a collection.

Over the last six months I’ve put more focus picking up Pacers team sets of parallels that I like from the late 90s and 2000s. It’s mostly been identifying copies at more than reasonable prices, in my mind, and I haven’t done a whole lot of waiting for those lower priced cards. They’ve been there as if waiting for me to grab them, and now they’re in a stack waiting to go into a binder once I can get organized enough. I haven’t put Pacers cards into binders since I was a kid, but I’m on the binder train now. It makes the cards more accessible and easier to enjoy. My point is, with the easy pickups I haven’t done too much waiting.

All of these parallels are right in my collecting sweet spot. They take me back to watching my favorite Pacers squads battle it out with the best of the league. And notice, none of these are refractors, although I’m always on the lookout for those as well.

With those somewhat out of the way, the cheap BINs, the instant gratification is going to be less instant, and I’ve already seen it. Reggie Miller parallels, for example, are way more expensive and scarce compared to every other Pacer. Lots of Reggie collectors out there. For the ones that are, do I overpay because they’re there? Or do I wait those cards out, hoping one will slip through the collective cracks in an auction?

Luckily, some of those tougher Reggie cards have been a part of my collection for years, which makes certain team sets a bit easier to complete. I played around with the photo angles on some of these.

This Reggie in particular helps a long way on the 1998-99 Upper Deck UD Exclusives Bronze team set. A lot of the others are available, but the mental boost of having the toughest card knocked out right off the bat helps with motivation to pick up others.

But for many of the team sets from the first gallery, the Reggie is the final boss waiting at the end of the game.

As collectors, aren’t we in it for the thrill of the hunt, for the waiting? It makes the completion of a set or project that much sweeter.

What’s the card you’ve been waiting on acquiring the longest? What’s your strategy when it comes to these hard to find cards?

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